Tag Archives: Advertising and Marketing

Now, what is it that you do?

The advertising world is full of good and bad examples of creative. But one approach that is among the most popular, but measurably least successful, is the ‘visual analogy’ approach.

The B2B tech world is especially prone to using this direction, because

1. it’s a helluva lot of work to try to explain what they do and who their customers are;

2. they hire lazy agencies who love to do this kind of ad and are really good at selling this approach. Often they’re ‘art director’ driven rather than copy driven, but in any case, they really don’t understand the value of creating a clear, benefit-driven advertisement;

3. they are just arrogant enough to believe that “our potential customers know who they are.” Oh, please.

Accenture is hugely into this kind of work, and God knows, they must ask for it because they keep getting it. They had ads with Tiger Woods for awhile that had the taglin e “be a tiger” and they bled that almost dry when Mr. Woods had his dalliances and subsequent meeting with a golf club aimed at his head.

Another blog said it well: When you build your brand on the shoulders of another, make sure their brand remains solid

read his comments at http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/5945/accenture-branded-by-the-tiger-woods-mess/

Now that their hero, Tiger, is no longer anyone’s media darling, they’re on to another campaign that is even more subtle in its reasoning.

Now, I know how compelling it can be to add a celebrity to a campaign. When i worked on Players Club, the first club for midrange gamblers, we used Telly Savalas as a spokesman. Nobody could have been more perfect. He added cred and class to the club. But Telly had been around a long time and was a reasonable price; plus we knew a little more of what we were getting. Tiger is young and very expensive… and apparently,unpredictable. Oopsie.

Accenture bears its soul (pun intended)…

Now Accenture’s campaign has a polar bear in it, with a goldfish in a big cube of ice… see the attached ad. I caught my shot of this in Heathrow Airport this past week on my way back from Europe. (Sigh, what a jetsetter I am…)  And as much as I love animals — polar bears are so darned cute!! — this ad tells me nothing at all about what Accenture does. Not one thing.

No doubt the agency who did it had a great old time in the brainstorming session! And while I’d like to think they used a stock photo, you never know. What I’ve noticed is that the art directors who design this kind of hack stuff are really big on location photoshoots. It’s something they can brag about during the awards ceremonies. yawn.

This also reminds me of some work i did recently for a company called Xtime – they develop sophisticated  customer relationship programs for forward-thinking automotive dealers. Explaining how their program works was a real challenge. We were comparing the multi-faceted Xtime system to a crack pit crew where each of the mechanics is expert at what they do… but this concept, as colorful as it was and theoretically ‘tied’ to the automotive client, did not quite hit the mark.

So, digging back in again we came up with a concept based on the viewpoint of the operations manager. We contemplated, “what does his life look like, and what does Xtime do to make it better?” … and the first thing that came to mind was that when I’ve been in the office of a fixed ops manager in a dealership, there are a zillion post-it notes on their monitor. People put them there so that their message can’t be ignored.

We realized that this was our opportunity to say that whatever area of the dealership is putting demands on them for improvement, Xtime is able to handle it all — unlike the ‘auto-mail’ cards and ‘robo-calls’ for service, this is more personal and the database helps them keep track of everything they need to know about a customer’s history. A complicated concept that can turn into chest beating with the wrong delivery. According to my client, we’ve nailed it.

Now i wonder what we’ll do for the next round? Stay tuned!

Cheers! — Carol




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Filed under Copywriting, Creative Share: my weekly critique, Creative Strategy, Design

Surprise! High level creativity in a low-tech product pitch

I was recently treated to a very compelling website with a video… but it wasn’t for something sexy like tech or the arts. It was for a plumbing product. Now, I can tell you from experience that it’s often tougher to find a creative solution for low- or no-tech products than for more – er – sophisticated products and services than it is to develop something cool or interesting for a new or cutting edge product. When we developed our Master Blaster campaign (see image posted here) for Remington Arms, for example, it meant changing the product name and developing a lead generation campaign with two highly targeted dimensional mail packages. But that was a few years ago. What would we do today?

Dimensional mail packages for Master Blaster

Remington Arms' Master Blaster was ultimate low-tech... equipment that blasted firing residue from the walls of industrial kilns.

I like to think we could potentially have come up with what David Polisky did for Flex-Drain! see their lead-generation solution at  http://www.flex-drain.com/challenge/

This is for a flexible hose product that requires fewer, if any, cuts and “elbows” when it’s being installed underground, and this video actually shows a race, complete with a referee, during which the team at flex-drain compete with a standard product for the same use, but which requires more work to install. There’s a ticking clock, a race route that we can look at to monitor their progress and in the end, a big winner.

Now, when I show work like our Master Blaster — that is, low-tech B2B solutions that are wildly successful —  to just about anyone in marketing or creative here in the Silicon Valley, they look at me with a bit of boredom, or even sadness, like ‘oh, you poor thing, you had to make do with such mundane product.’ But frankly, since my job is to find workable, measurably successful creative solutions to marketing problems, anything that presents an interesting challenge is worth my time and keeps me very engaged! We do whatever it takes to get the attention of a good prospect using whatever lead-generation vehicle we have at our disposal. And then the outcome… when we start seeing the numbers roll in (in the case of the Master Blaster, it was phone calls, from highly qualified prospects, leading to sales and long-term relationships) is enough to make my heart skip a beat. Yeah! That’s what it’s all about!

So if you do creative work, and feel like every project is less than engaging, take a look at the Flex-Drain video and be inspired by the imaginative solution these folks developed. If you’re hiring creatives to help you get a breakthrough, remember that while it takes a great creative to develop such work, it takes a great client to approve it.

By the way  … If you enjoy hearing about wildly creative solutions to challenging product promotions, plan now to attend the DMA 2011 in Boston from October 3-9, and attend our Creative Slamdown session! Featuring three outrageously talented creatives – Alan Rosenspan, Otis Maxwell and Nancy Wahl — they’ll show you top notch creative solutions that worked to successfully and measurably sell very unusual and less than exciting products. Attend and be inspired!

And meanwhile, if you wish you had attended our Creative Slamdown session at DMA 2010, you can request a pdf of the PowerPoint from that session by emailing me at cwl@worthington-levy.com.

You’ll see why I say, there are no boring products… just uninspired creatives. Don’t let yourself be one!

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Filed under Creative Strategy